Liam Pitchford was the star for England as they upset second seeds Japan 3-1 on the opening day of the ITTF Team World Cup in Tokyo.
The host nation made the better start, Koki Niwa and Maharu Yoshimura accounted for Tom Jarvis and Paul Drinkhall 11-7, 11-6, 11-7, before England, the ninth seeds, mounted the recovery.
England had surprisingly opted to play the 19-year-old Jarvis instead of the more experienced Sam Walker in the doubles. But the defeat of the pair did not deter the English from pulling off a remarkable win.
Pitchford beat Tomokazu Harimoto 6-11, 11-7, 11-8, 9-11, 11-8 in the first singles before Paul Drinkhall defeated Maharu Yoshimura 11-2, 4-11, 7-11, 11-3, 11-9.
Pitchford sealed a memorable victory for England when he crushed Koki Niwa 11-8, 12-10, 11-5 in the next singles.
At the ITTF Team World Cup in London last February, England were beaten 1-3 by the same Japanese side.
The defeat puts a dent on Japan’s hopes of qualifying to the next round as group winners. But the Japanese side kept alive their hopes of finishing second to book their place in the knockout stages, when they defeated Austria 3-1 in their second tie.
England plays Austria on the second day of action to determine the final order in the group.
China, the top seeds, parading Ma Long, Lin Gaoyuan and Liang Jingkun recorded 3-0 wins over Nigeria and Chinese-Taipei to outline their superiority.
Likewise, third seeded Germany with their top stars Timo Boll, Patrick Franziska and Dimitrij Ovtcharov in action, easily beat Australia and Brazil by 3-0 margins.
Korea, the fourth seeds, with Lee Sangsu, Jeoung Youngsik and Jang Woojin in action romped past USA 3-0. They beat Sweden 3-1 with Woojin picking up two wins in the singles.
In the women’s competition, fourth seeded Hong Kong started off with a 3-0 win over Brazil but were upset 0-3 by the fifth seeded Korean’s in their second tie.
The combination of Jeon Jihee and Yang Haeun gave the Koreans the perfect start by beating Doo Hoi Kem and Lee Ho Ching 11-3, 11-9, 11-.
In the singles Suh Hyowon edged Minnie Soo Wai Yam 11-5, 11-9, 13-15, 9-11, 11-6 while Jeon Jihee overcame Doo Hoi Kem 11-7, 10-12, 15-13, 12-14, 11-6.
Korea Republic will take on Brazil and a win would ensure their top placing in the group.
Top seeds, China, with Ding Ning, Liu Shiwen and Sun Yingsha in their strong line-up, claimed a 3-0 win over tenth seeds Egypt and followed it up with another thumping 3-0 win over Ukraine in their second tie.
Second seeded Japan, beat Austria 3-0 in their opening tie while Chinese Taipei defeated Vanuatu 3-0 and Romania 3-1 in their group ties.